Putin Critic Alexei Navalny Loses Prison Sentence Appeal.
RUSSIAN opposition leader Alexei Navalny has lost an appeal against his jailing for violating the terms of a suspended sentence. Navalny was detained last month after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was being treated for a near-fatal nerve agent attack that he blamed on the KGB.
Navalny insists the charges against him are fabricated- the Kremlin strongly denies any involvement in his poisoning.
Navalny was accused of breaking the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence for embezzlement that required him to report regularly to Russian police. In court, in a speech that referenced both to the Bible and the Harry Potter series, he argued the charges were “absurd” as he was unable to report to the police while recovering from the nerve agent attack.
“The whole world knew where I was,” he said. “Once I’d recovered, I bought a plane ticket and came home.” But the judge rejected his case and he will return to the penal colony where he is serving his time. The judge did, though, cut his six weeks off the nearly three-year sentence imposed.
Navalny faces another appearance in court today, Saturday, on charges of slandering a World War Two veteran who praised President Putin. As he was led into the dock, Alexei Navalny made the V for Victory sign.
However, when the judgement came back there was little to celebrate. His prison sentence was upheld and only reduced slightly, by a month-and-a-half). With its most vocal critic off to prison, the Kremlin will be hoping it has neutralised the threat he poses as an anti-corruption campaigner and as the only opposition leader in Russia capable of bringing large crowds onto the streets nationwide.
Moscow will now expect more criticism and pressure from the West. This week President Putin’s spokesman accused America and Europe of talking about sanctions with “maniacal persistence”. But the Kremlin will try to turn Western criticism in its favour – to bolster the official narrative that Navalny is a Western stooge and that Russia is a country under siege.
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